Predicting 10 of the 2013-2014 TV Season's Biggest Headlines

By Cory Barker

Sep 18, 2013

Last fall around this time, I tried my best to guess the headlines that would dominate the 2012-2013 TV season. Looking back on that story now, the results were about as solid as you might expect. I assumed that Gossip Girl's final season would suck, but not to the fiery degree that it did. Similarly, although I predicted that Scandal had all the potential to break out in its second season, I couldn't have foreseen that it would become such a huge pop-culture phenomenon. However, as with anything, with more practice comes better work; my predictions of this season's big headlines will more accurate. I guarantee it.

These are the stories that I think we here at TV.com, and folks all over the internet, will be talking about.


"[Show X]'s Series Finale: How It Stuck the Landing"


APPLIES TO: How I Met Your MotherNikita

Unlike last year, there aren't too many shows that we already know are ending this season. I mean, Sean Saves the World is already over and just doesn't know it yet, but that's not the kind of ending I'm talking about. How I Met Your Mother is on tap to have the big conclusion of the spring, and while there's a lot of skepticism surrounding the show—and for good reason—I have this weird feeling that the final season is going to be really strong. Will it be worth nine years of getting jerked around? That, I'm not so sure about. But Ted and the Mother's initial moments together are bound to be something special. 

Nikita's back with a short-run send-off, and while that might not work for too many series, the six-episode order will give Maggie Q & company the chance to go full-bore into serialized, action-packed storytelling to wrap everything up. There won't be as much chatter about that ending, but it'll probably be even more successful and in-line with what the whole series managed to accomplish.


"What the Hell Was in the Kool-Aid During Last Spring's Pilot Season?" 


APPLIES TO: Back in the GameBetrayalLucky 7, We Are Men, Welcome to the FamilySuper Fun Night... nearly all of this season's new shows, basically

This season's freshman class leaves a lot to be desired. Although we can expect networks to be more patient than in recent years because ratings are always on the decline and there's not always a lot left on the shelf to replace the failures, by 2014, there's going to be a slew of new shows that are either officially dead or just waiting for the networks to mercy kill them by the time the Upfronts roll around. That means bad news for Lucky 7We Are MenBack in the GameWelcome to the FamilySean Saves the WorldBetrayal, and maybe even Ironside, The Blacklist, and Super Fun NightExpect there to be a lot of hand-wringing about the broadcast networks' ability to make good, popular shows in the contemporary industry environment. 


"[Show X]: It's Better Than You Think!" 


APPLIES TO: The Millers, Trophy WifeReign

With so few obvious candidates in the running for the Season's Best New Show, it's more likely that we'll see lots of stories bubbling up about possibly under-watched new series that are on the upswing. This one's especially likely to appear in the second half of the year, and probably more likely to happen to comedies (which often take a long time to get going) and CW shows (which most people don't watch). As a result, prepare yourself for the "Why You Should Be Watching Reign" piece, probably written by me, come President's Day. The idea that The CW just decided to make a show with "Game of Thrones, but for girls" in mind is awful and hilarious all at once, but it's exactly the kind of silly premise the network could find traction with. Identifying the comedies that might start slow before breaking out is a little harder, particularly with Enlisted bumped to the midseason, but The Millers and Trophy Wife are my picks. People will be down on the former because it's a CBS multi-camera and Greg Garcia's series start slow, but that's a great cast. Trophy Wife will struggle to overcome its supposedly ironic title (and we know how that goes for ABC sitcoms), but Malin Akerman is a born sitcom star. 


"Annnnnd [Show X]'s Wheels Have Completely Come Off" 


APPLIES TO: Nashville, RevengeThe Vampire Diaries

It's not a television season without a few shows diminishing in quality so quickly that it makes everyone wonder why how the heck they ever enjoyed them in the first place. We're all familiar with the concept of the sophomore slump, which is often where the big, surprising train wrecks come from each year. Unfortunately, last year didn't birth that many successful new shows, so identifying candidates for self-destruction is difficult now. Maybe we look to Arrow (raised expectations and bigger stories on a CW budget?) or The Mindy Project (had its moments in Season 1, but sometimes got dangerously close to ruining whatever groove it found), but Nashville is probably the best bet: creative issues, rumors about changing production locations, too big of a cast, and a generally disappointing ratings performance. What are the chances that it remains remotely solid throughout Season 2? 


But it almost doesn't matter that we can't count on sophomores to make all the mistakes, because it's easy to turn to some older shows that wobbled a bit in 2012-2013—and that's where the conversation gets interesting. Revenge is poised to be one of the more fascinating shows on the air this fall because it's just as likely to yield cries of "It's back!" as it is to claim the refrain of "This is so bad now." New showrunner or not, Revenge lost its mojo a long time ago, and I don't think it can totally regain it. The Vampire Diaries is teetering on the edge of mediocrity, and with Julie Plec's time split among a number of different projects, Season 5 could be the one in which the storylines get too convoluted, too fast and the character beats aren't even there. The same could be said for Glee, but of course that one is touchy, for obvious reasons. 


"[Show X]: Talk About a Turnaround!" 


APPLIES TO: Homeland, Revolution

And of course, it's also not a TV season without those shows that make that creative comeback (if not a ratings comeback). Like RevengeRevolution is just as likely to fall deeper into its creative nadir, but really, how much worse could it get, really? Creator Eric Kripke's been saying all the right things about what went wrong in Season 1, and his former writing bro Ben Edlund is joined the series to clean up some messes. You're telling me that you can't imagine Tim writing a "Hey, it's better!" review come November sweeps? 


Meanwhile, an understatement: Homeland wasn't as bad as Revolution last year. However, popular sentiment had turned against the show quite a bit by the end of Season 2, and now Brody's still alive but on the run, and the CIA has literally been blown up. There's no doubt that the Emmy-winning drama's third season will be something of a transition year, one that I think will end up being quieter and a little more contemplative. Ultimately, with somewhat lowered expectations, we'll come back around on Homeland by December. 


"Give [Underdog Actor X] All the Emmys" 


APPLIES TO: Daniel Gillies, Sophia Lowe, David Walton, Parker Young

We love to rally behind standout performers who probably don't have much of a real chance of actually garnering an Emmy nomination. See: Maslany, Tatiana and Johnson, Jake. This year, it'll be easy to point to Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson on HBO's upcoming True Detective, or Michael J. Fox on his semi-autobiographical The Michael J. Fox Show, and think EMMY, but c'mon, where's the fun in that? Instead, I suspect there will be a lot of love for David Walton on About a Boy, Parker Young on Enlisted, Daniel Gillies on The Originals, and Sophie Lowe on Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. They're all in a great position to break out with captivating performances, just as we're in a great position to be upset when they're (unsurprisingly) not nominated next July. 


"Let the [Show X] Backlash Begin" 


APPLIES TO: Community, New Girl

High expectations inevitably yield disappointment—and that applies to both shows and individuals. The obvious candidate here is Dan Harmon and his return to Community. Although the show is likely to be back on the air faster than NBC would like it to be, it's not clear whether the rabid fandom will be able to fully process a fifth season that brings Harmon back but that's also missing two original members of the study group. It's the internet's biggest powderkeg, and it's absolutely going off. 

On a much tamer level, New Girl is all set up to face some issues in Season 3. Fans are jacked up about Nick and Jess, but we know all the baggage that comes with putting anticipated couples together (warranted or not). Coach is coming back, and that could mess up Winston's energy. And oh by the way, Fox surely wasn't happy with how the ratings turned out in Season 2, which puts a little added pressure on the show's upcoming run of episodes. 


"[Show X] Is Twitter's New Darling, for Better or for Worse" 


APPLIES TO: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Sleepy HollowThe BlacklistDads

There's nothing quite like experiencing a show, good or bad, on Twitter. Whether people start full-on live-tweeting or a given show simply becomes so ingrained in the general internet conversation (mostly via .GIFs, duh) that you can't escape it, there's bound to be a new addition or three to the recent class of TV Twitter champions (GleeScandalOrphan Black, #TheCape). The early leaders in the clubhouse are Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (obviously), Sleepy HollowThe Blacklist, and Dads. Chances are that at least two of them will be consistently awful in a such a way that we won't be able to stop joking about them—the amount of vitriol spewed at Dads each week is going to be quite the marvel, and I'm already ready to hashtag everything I tweet with #TheBlacklist. Plus, even if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Sleepy Hollow turn out to be decent, it's likely that there will still be quite a bit to say. Which is really all that television exists for, right?


"Is the Singing Competition Dead?" 


APPLIES TO: The VoiceThe X FactorAmerican Idol

This is the year that the singing competition takes a BIG dive. The X Factor already debuted to weak numbers and American Idol is quite the mess coming off its worst season ever. But what if it's not just a Fox problem in 2013-2014? NBC took a risk by airing two cycles of The Voice last season and even though that approach worked, it's bound to eventually cause audience burnout. There's no way that NBC's most popular non-football property will tank entirely this season, but by spring, it will have aired five seasons and something like 135 episodes in just three years. Plus, it's on NBC. Things don't go right for too long over there. By next fall, there will be a lot of attention on singing competitions and whether or not they can serve as the centerpiece for a given network's schedule.


"'Limited Event' Series Are the New Trend Changing the Landscape of Television" 


APPLIES TO: HostagesIntelligence24: Live Another Day

Last season it was Netflix, and to a lesser extent Amazon and Hulu, that shifted our perceptions of what TV actually is, threatened all the big players for awards recognition, and generally made a lot of noise. This year? We're going to hear quite a bit about the networks embracing shorter seasons and event programming (in fact, you've already begun to hear it around these parts). A lot of digital ink will be spilled in praise of shows like Hostages and Intelligence, Fox's decision to revive 24 as a summer event, and ABC's choice to finally air its programming in seasonal blocks giving the broadcast networks more room to compete with cable and all the other burgeoning content producers. And even those who shrug at these moves will acknowledge that they're probably good for shows on a creative level. 


What topics do you think will dominate the discussion this season? And how do you feel about the predictions above?

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  • AdityaKartikaP Sep 20, 2013

    I'm just hoping that Agents Of SHIELD will find lots of audiences past the pilot. This is ABC dammit, not FOX !

  • Hoss1121 Sep 19, 2013

    "How soon will [Show X] get everyone fed up with '80s pop culture, and/or constant references to it?" (I'm looking at you, guys named Seth)




  • kathleenodonn2 Sep 19, 2013

    I have mixed feelings about limited event shows. While I love the idea for certain projects - things that would be really good but can't last long-term - I would be a little bummed if all my shows went that way. I like having some shows that I can come back to every week.

  • MintberryCrunch Sep 19, 2013

    One question: On Community, who is the other original study group member who won't be around? I know Chevy Chase is gone but please don't confirm my worst fears that Donald Glover has also departed?....please

  • CoryBarker1 Sep 19, 2013

    Yeah, Glover's only around for five.

  • DukeOfTed Sep 19, 2013

    Even though you asked politely... Donald Glover is indeed leaving. I think he's only slated to appear in 3-5 episodes.

  • IHeartSB Sep 19, 2013

    Nashville is a good show for the majority of the viewing public in this country since country music is the most popular type of music out these days. They could end up suffering from sophomore slump or fall completely apart like Smash did last season. That show was a hit with fans and critics in its first season, but by the time the second season came around it appeared (at least to me) to be too close to a Glee type show to be taken seriously anymore and it was banished to Saturday nights and killed off after their remaining episodes aired.

    I believe that TV as we know it has been over for at least 10 years. NBC hasn't had a hit in the top 10 that wasn't football or a reality competition show since pretty much Friends and Frasier ended in 2004. Fox hasn't been a must watch channel in at least that long with the exception of American Idol. ABC was in this exact same slump right as all the amazing 90's and early 2000's shows were ending and wasn't able to rebound significantly until Modern Family in 2009. CBS has been the only network channel who hasn't been in a tremendous slump over the last 10 years and that is due in large part to two things, CSI and all shows like it and Chuck Lorre. If CBS were to take away those to things then it too would be a network on life support.

    My prediction for the future of TV is that more people will be tuning into scripted shows on streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu rather than sit in front of a TV and watch the crap that is currently poisoning the minds of Americans today. It will take a very long time (can't predict an exact number of years) but TV's will be a thing of the past and shows that we used to consider part of TV will now be exclusively on the computer. I believe that at some point in human evolution the TV will go the way of the land line telephone, telephone booths, VHS tapes, etc. There really isn't any standard for what quality means anymore and there really aren't any original ideas left in Hollywood which is why most of the networks are at their worst levels in years.

  • PhoenixTremayne Sep 19, 2013

    I have a feeling Revenge learned from its mistakes and based on the promo will be giving us more of what we want; singing competitions are on life support, Dads (Please kill it now) Homeland has been good; so I don't have any reason to believe they won't continue the trend although keeping Brody is a bit of a stretch to the imagination; too much has happened. I agree this year will be a test for Vampire Diaries; creatively it sucks, so Stephen is off the rails again (Doppelganger or not) Damon and Elaina will not last she'll be with the real Stephen by the time the season is over "again", the Originals will dilute the VD even more, Like the Colby's did Dynasty. I stopped caring about HIMYM two seasons ago and a full season based on one day, the literal How I met your mother moment, does not appeal to me; I will watch the Finale and that's about it.

  • Mysterv Sep 19, 2013

    Speculation. Revenge had a disappointing second season but see no reason why it can't rebound. Too many good characters to fail. I will be watching.
    I have hope for Revolution, being a Sci-Fi fan. It stunk for half the season and then started getting interesting. Hope that trend continues into the second season.

  • CoryBarker1 Sep 19, 2013

    are there that many good characters on Revenge though? Even Emily was a bit of a mess last year.

  • Cadd-9 Sep 19, 2013

    A nice summary of waht might happen... The ending of HIMYM, I think, will be disappointing. I deeply believe it will suck. So for the small chance of it being good, I will be even happier ;)

    On the other hand I don´t expect anything from any series anymore... Some months ago I was hoping for a nice short series called "Under the dome"... yeah, we all know how that went out!

  • J_Pip Sep 19, 2013

    Sorry, I tuned out when you put Homeland and Revolution in the same category for a "turnaround." Now I am not a cult follower of Homeland, but I think it's a pretty good drama that has some really high points. Revolution on the other hand is the worst show I have ever seen. Not only would they have to change the writing, but the acting, way it is filmed, and the history between the characters before this show is halfway watchable.

  • CoryBarker1 Sep 19, 2013

    Well if you actually read it, you'll see that I acknowledged that they were nowhere near the same quality.

  • FringeFanatic Sep 19, 2013

    Revolution is the worst show you've ever seen? I guess you took a pass on Under the Dome.

  • afronado Sep 19, 2013

    Or Guys with Kids, or Dads, or Animal Practice, or Malibu Country, or... The point is, good for you for not even attempting to watch these

  • MissMunchkin Sep 19, 2013

    Walking Dead: Talk About a Turn Around!

    ... I hope? While I am definitely one of the people that have enjoyed the show since the beginning, I know there are plenty of people who are pissed but still hanging on for reasons. Because of the new showrunner, I have high hopes that the audience as a whole will be happier, especially since the man is a fantastic writer. But with the new spinoff and game series and college class and who knows what else happening centered around the show, there could simply be too much going on to give it the attention it deserves for a turn around. But again, optimism.

    I really hope Arrow doesn't crash and burn. But the rumors about Sarah returning and being a new love interest for Ollie is just-- it's cringe worthy. You're really going to bang Laurel's sister again, dude? Really? I mean, that's groady, and the last thing you want is to make your main character kinda gross. If he's gross, I hate him. If I hate him, I'm going to stop watching. So... Like... if they go down that route, I could easily see Arrow crashing in its sophomore season even though I just marathoned and loved the first season.

    I hate limited series runs, so I will be so upset if they become the new hot thing that dominates television. But I know you're right. It's where TV is heading. Guess it's just me, though.

  • ElisaDiaz Sep 19, 2013

    I don't like Laurel neither, so in terms of love interest, I hope they come up with something else anyways.

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